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WTIU’s January Classical Music Highlights

Specials include a beloved New Year's Day concert hosted by Julie Andrews and the story of a Louisville orchestra that changed the face of contemporary music.

Isabel Leonard as Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Great Performances: From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2014

Wednesday, January 1 at 8pm

Stage and screen legend Julie Andrews hosts the annual New Year’s celebration with the Vienna Philharmonic, under the direction of Daniel Barenboim from Vienna’s Musikverein. This live broadcast, featuring the melodies of the Strauss family composers and their contemporaries, marks the 150th anniversary of Richard Strauss’ birth. The program features two Vienna State Ballet’s ballet interludes, set in the City Palace, which has returned to all its former glory after extensive renovation. Ms. Andrews will travel from her base in the Musikverein hall to visit multiple picturesque Vienna landmarks: the Sigmund Freud Museum, the Porcelain Museum in the Augarten, the 900-year-old Klosterneuburg Abbey, and the Liechtenstein City Palace. Last year, Maestro Barenboim turned 70 and celebrated his 60th stage anniversary. The Vienna Philharmonic concert is the largest worldwide event in classical music reaching millions of people annually through radio and television in over 80 countries, the first TV broadcasts having begun in 1959.

Great Performances at the Met: Maria Stuarda

Sunday, January 5 at 3pm
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Joyce DiDonato stars as Mary, Queen of Scots, in the first-ever Met production of Donizetti’s intensely dramatic historical opera Maria Stuarda. South African soprano Elza van den Heever makes her Met debut as Mary’s rival Queen Elizabeth I, and Matthew Polenzani sings Leicester, the nobleman caught between the two dueling monarchs. Maurizio Benini conducts a cast that also includes Matthew Rose as Talbot and Joshua Hopkins as Elizabeth’s advisor Cecil. Soprano Deborah Voigt hosts the broadcast and conducts backstage interviews with the stars. The production is by David McVicar, who also staged last season’s broadcast of Donizetti’s Tudor drama Anna Bolena. Maria Stuarda was originally seen live in movie theaters as part of the groundbreaking The Met: Live in HD series, which transmits live performances to more than 1,900 movie theaters and performing arts centers in 64 countries around the world.

Live from Lincoln Center: Richard Tucker at 100: An Opera Celebration

Friday, January 10 at 9pm
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The Richard Tucker Music Foundation’s 2013 gala is one of the most highly anticipated events of the opera season. This year’s concert event, from Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, will celebrate the legendary tenor’s centenary with an illustrious all-American group of singers and honor this year’s Richard Tucker Award winner. The broadcast is hosted by Audra McDonald and features interstitial interviews with the artists, segments from backstage, and a short documentary on Richard Tucker’s life. Performers include Stephanie Blythe, Stephen Costello, Joyce DiDonato, Renée Fleming, Christine Goerke, Susan Graham, Gregg Grimsley, Angela Meade, Eric Owens, Ailyn Pérez, Matthew Polenzani, and Patricia Racette, joining the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the New York Choral Society. Many of the singers featured on the program are past recipients of the foundation’s biggest prize, the Richard Tucker Award, which gave them recognition and much needed funds at a crucial point in their careers.

This year’s Richard Tucker Award recipient is New York native Isabel Leonard, a rising star in the United States and abroad. Besides her current run as Dorabella in the Met’s Così fan tutte under James Levine, which will be broadcast to cinemas worldwide in the spring as part of the company’s Live in HD series, the 2013-14 season sees Leonard in her highly-anticipated debuts at the San Francisco Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Dallas Opera as Rosina in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia.

Great Performances at the Met: Eugene Onegin

Friday, January 17 at 9pm

Acclaimed English director Deborah Warner’s new production of Tchaikovsky’s most popular opera is directed by her longtime collaborator Fiona Shaw and conducted by Valery Gergiev. Anna Netrebko reprises her company role debut as Tatiana, the naïve heroine of Pushkin’s classic novel. Mariusz Kwiecien portrays the self-confident title character, in a much-admired interpretation he has sung in many of the world’s leading opera houses, and Piotr Beczala reprises his acclaimed performance as Onegin’s friend-turned-rival, Lenski.

Music Makes a City

Friday, January 24 at 10pm

Music Makes a City documents how Louisville, Kentucky, became a hub for visionary composition when a mayor, a conductor, and a robust generation of composers converged to make the city the world’s unlikely capital of new music in postwar America. In 1948, the small, struggling, semi-professional Louisville Orchestra began a project to commission new works from contemporary composers around the world. In 1953, the orchestra received an unprecedented $400,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to commission 52 compositions a year for three years, including a new work for dancer and choreographer Martha Graham. The dynamo behind this ambitious venture was Mayor Charles Farnsley, who had a love of cultural expressions of all kinds. The film weaves archival footage and anecdotes from veteran Louisville musicians and civic figures, and interviews with some of the project’s key participants: American composers Lukas Foss, Chou Wen-chung, Gunther Schuller, and Elliot Carter, who gave an interview at age 100.

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Scott Witzke

Director of Marketing & External Relations
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